A woman found beaten to death in November has been confirmed as the latest victim of a serial killer already linked to the murders of three Baton Rouge women, police said.
Trineisha Dene Colomb, 23, of Lafayette, was reported missing Nov. 22 after her car was found abandoned in nearby Grand Coteau. Two days later, a hunter found Colomb's body about 20 miles away.
DNA evidence found at the scene matched genetic evidence from the other serial murders, Lt. Craig Stansbury said Monday. Authorities say she died of blunt trauma to the head.
Rene Colomb said she was shocked to learn that her cousin's death had been linked to the serial killer.
"I had no idea. It's so unreal. It's so hard to deal with this happening to such a sweet person. That's what's so confusing -- she was so sweet," she said.
A witness had reported seeing a white Chevrolet step-side pickup truck parked behind Colomb's abandoned car at the dead end of a gravel road, authorities said. A truck of a similar description was mentioned by witnesses in the other cases.
"We need the public to reflect on those dates and report if they noticed a truck matching the description in the area," Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom said.
The first three victims were linked by DNA this summer, setting Baton Rouge residents on edge and leading to the creation of a task force still trying to solve the crimes. Lafayette is about an hour's drive west on Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge.
Gina Wilson Green, 41, was found strangled in her home Sept. 24, 2001. Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, was found stabbed to death in her home May 31. Pam Kinamore, 44, was abducted from her home July 12. Her throat was slashed and her body dumped about 30 miles away from Baton Rouge off the interstate toward Lafayette.
Colomb was known by her family and friends by her middle name, Dene.
She was in the Army for about two years and planned to join the Marines in February, relatives have said. She also tried out for the reality television show "Survivor," by videotaping herself wrestling a pig in the mud.
Relatives described Colomb as a loner who made friends over the Internet. Investigators say they checked her computer and found no plausible leads.
Family members said they believe Colomb drove to Grand Coteau to visit her mother's grave. The cemetery is less than a mile from where her car was found.
Stansbury said detectives had exhausted all other leads and that the DNA match brought authorities no closer to catching Colomb's killer.
"Our detectives will be working with Baton Rouge police to develop any type of leads," Stansbury said.
The families of the murdered women have been searching for links that might have connected them.
Colomb was the first black women connected to the murderer. She and Pace were less than a year apart in age; Pace was a month away from her 23rd birthday when she was killed.
Ann Pace, mother of the second victim, said she got a phone call from a Baton Rouge police officer telling her Colomb's death had been linked to the serial killer.
She said she called Colomb's father to offer her condolences and the support of all the victims' families.
"It's just awful and you know something of how he must feel. It's just hard at Christmas because you just take out the stocking and look at it," Pace said, sobbing.